|250: Kaulbachstrasse Community, Munich, Bavaria, Germany|
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Mystery Worshipper: Terry.
The church: Kaulbachstrasse Community, Munich, Bavaria, Germany.
Denomination: Roman Catholic.
The building: The chapel of the Berchmanskolleg was designed in the early 1970s: green carpet, wooden altar and ambo, very little decoration. Outside, though, one gets a mixture of beautiful 19th century architecture (the Berchmanskolleg itself) and 1970s design at its worst (the Hochschule building). Finding the chapel is an adventure if you haven't been there before you need to enter what looks like an almost-hidden backyard parking lot, up some stairs, through the door at the top of the stairs with nothing to indicate you are approaching the chapel!
The neighbourhood: As the Hochschule for Philosophie is about 5 minutes from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitt, the area is brimming with students.
The cast: The celebrant was Fr Michael, a visiting Jesuit from the United States, who taught canon law at the Universit Gregoriana in Rome.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
Half full, about 50 people. I was told that this is approximately 40 per cent less than on ordinary Sundays. It was a weekend during the Bavarian autumn school holidays.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
An elderly woman said hello as I came to the chapel.
Was your pew comfortable?
No pews, no kneelers, but comfortable chairs, and we didn't kneel anyway.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Quiet, with a little chatting in the last two or three minutes before mass started.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning, we have no new hymns today."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
"Hymns Old and New" (Expanded Version) and "Celebrating the Eucharist".
What musical instruments were played?
Guitar and mandolin.
Did anything distract you?
When we formed a circle around the altar, someone knocked over one of the two flowerpots in the chapel.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Not clappy in the literal sense, but otherwise as happy clappy as Catholicism can get.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
10. I was about to rate it at 6, but then remembered I am spoiled by the homilies during weekday masses in the same chapel, which are directed at philosophy students and Jesuits.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
There are laws that say how things are (for example, the law of gravity) and laws that tell us how things should be. The commandment to love God and our neighbours belongs to the former category, because if we do not love we are dead. Love shows in common courtesy and in forgiveness.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
We were invited to gather around the altar before the eucharistic prayer started. Standing in a circle around the altar is something you rarely do in Catholic services. It was good to participate in the service.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The German man who sat beside me during the service and after communion was an awful singer, and probably not aware of how off he was.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Newcomers were invited to follow the crowd to the foyer of the Hochschule for a cup of coffee. I did, and chatted with some people.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Tea and coffee (with cookies) in plastic cups that were recycled. The coffee was hot but I'll never like filtered coffee.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
10. I'd rather give it a 20! This is a really active parish, and it tries to make newcomers feel at home. And I rarely felt such a strong sense of participating in the liturgy.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes! I was tempted to list the entire community as those who led the service. I really felt that everyone concelebrated... that is, that everyone was there with her or his heart.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
It's a really young community. Children, children, children!